Customer Service and Dollar Rent a Car

My family and I are on a two week vacation in the Southeast.  We flew into Orlando Airport (MCO) and picked up a Dodge Caravan from Dollar Rent a Car.  The vans were parked in the lower level of a parking garage, so it was rather dark, and I really didn’t have a chance to view the condition of the vehicle.

We drove the vehicle that evening until 8:30 pm.  Then stayed in a hotel in Altamont Springs.  Got up the next morning and drove 10+ hours to Boone, North Carolina.  It was here in Boone, that I really got a chance to look at the vehicle.

The tires are worn badly.  Especially on the driver’s side.  Here are pictures of the tires:

The contract states that the vehicle is is “good condition” .  But I don’t think that the tires are in “good condition”.

So here is an opportunity for customer service.  Let’s see how Dollar Rent a Car is doing so far.

Yesterday and today, I contacted customer service, explained the situation, and asked what could be done.  I emphasized the fact that we like the car, and I made a point to say that supplying a vehicle with badly worn tires must have been an oversight on their part.  I explained that we were in Boone, North Carolina, and headed to South Carolina in a couple of days.

Dollar Rent a Car’s response has been to tell me to take the car to a Dollar Rent a Car facility, and exchange the car there.

The problem is that there is no facility here in Boone.  The nearest is in Greensboro Airport, North Carolina, which is about two hours away.  And there are no Dollar Rent a Car facilities in South Carolina.  And we can exchange the car in Florida, but we won’t be there until a week in our trip.

So we are inconvienced by the fact that we are renting a vehicle NOT in “good condition” with tires that are in my opinion unsafe to drive on.  And the best that Dollar can do is to have me take time out of my vacation and drive out of my way to exchange the vehicle. They will probably just turn the vehicle around and rent it to another unluckly soul…

Because I wanted to document this (especially if anything, God forbid, should happen on wet roads) I went to their website, and found a Contact Us page, with a form to fill out.  I filled it out and submitted it.  After submitting I am told that it will take 3 to 7 days for them to respond.

Shame on Dollar Rent a Car!  This is the 21st Century!  Is that the best you can do?

All I want is to go to a local, nearby tire repair facility authorized by Dollar Rent a Car, and have tires in “good condition” installed on the car.

We’ll see what their response is to resolve this.  But based on the real lack of understanding the issue (safety of their customers) I don’t doubt that the response will be canned and in the interest of the company and not the customer.

Customer Service and Dollar Rent a Car?  Not that I have seen yet.

Customer No Service

Poor Customer Service and Joe’s

Let me tell you a short story about customer no-service.

I bought a warm winter sleeping bag from Joe’s (formerly G.I. Joe’s) here in Bend, Oregon last year.  It is made by Columbia.  I bought the bag because I go winter camping and elk hunting, and I wanted a warm bag.  And being manufactured by Columbia, I figured that it was quality and would last me for several years.

It lasted only a few months.

On the 3rd or 4th use, the zipper stopped working.  So it went in the attic back into the box it came in.

Customer No Service

A week ago, I found the bag in its original box that I purchased from Joe’s.  I thought to myself that “Hey I buy a lot of gear from Joe’s Sporting Goods Store, I will just take it back and get an exchange.”

So I went into the store with my sleeping bag and box, and with a big smile.

Unfortunately, I was a customer.  And the NO CUSTOMER NO SERVICE sign was out – I just didn’t see it.  I smiled and explained my dilemma, and said that I just wanted a replacement.  The lady behind the no customer no service counter said that any goods after 90 days have to be returned to the manufacturer.

She turned to the other employee next to her and asked her about this.  She turned to me and told me the same thing.   She said to take it to the Columbia outlet at the south end of town here in Bend, Oregon, and they would exchange it.

AND THEN SHE TURNED HER BACK TO ME.

The was no other conversation.  I was dismissed.  I and my Columbia sleeping bag and box could just go away.  I was no longer their problem.  I was Columbia’s problem.

If I was younger, I would have been embarrassed.

However, I have an online marketing business.  And at my age and realizing that I was watching and experiencing poor customer service first hand, I just marveled at the sheer stupidity and short sightedness of these employees and the poor training by the store.

How much money I had spent over the years at Joe’s (formerly G.I. Joe’s)?  And much more money would I spend on hunting and fishing and camping gear over the next few years?  Surely the value of a lifetime customer was greater than a $75 sleeping bag.

I guess not.

I left the store feeling a little foolish.

An Example of Customer Service

I called the Columbia Outlet Store, and the manager was very helpful.  He was a bit incredulous that Joe’s had me call them, but he said to bring the sleeping bag down to his store and he would see what he could do.

I brought the bag to the store, and the manager, Mr. Bob Johnston, met me at their CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK, explained that Columbia didn’t actually make the sleeping bag, but that a manufacturer called North Pole made the equipment.  He was very helpful.

He was honest with me and said that he would send the bag in to North Pole for warranty repair, and that they may or may not honor the warranty, but it was worth a shot.

I told Mr. Johnston that I appreciated his effort at trying to solve my problem.

The Columbia Outlet Store manager gave me a reciept, and told me that if I hadn’t heard anything in a few weeks, then to give him a call.

I thanked him again, shook his hand and left.

Customer service was not dead.  It was just at the wrong location.

Thank you Columbia Sportswear Company!

And kudos for great training and great hiring of capable people like Mr. Johnston, who are empowered to actually make decisions to solve customer problems.

Add REI, Inc to the Mix

And I do need to purchase more sleeping bags.  I need to buy several actually, because our older sleeping bags are not working right.  I purchased the Columbia sleeping bag with the thought that if this bag worked out, then I would buy more Columbia sleeping bags.

Alas, although Columbia had great customer service, their sleeping bag is of poor quality if the zipper breaks on the 3rd or 4th use.  And if I have only 90 days to return gear to Joe’s, then I probably shouldn’t shop at Joe’s.  And that leaves REI, Inc.  I can purchase quality equipment knowing that if I am not satisfied and/or the equipment fails, I can get replacements – and with a smile.

So, I will be buying more and more camping and sports equipment at REI here in Bend, Oregon, instead of at Joe’s.

Sorry Joe’s.

I don’t like being treated poorly or feeling foolish just trying to get a problem fixed.  My problem should have become your problem.

The moral of this story is for every business owner to remember that their greatest asset is the customer.  Not their building, their inventory, or their employees – but the customer.

Customers are a business’s asset.

And Joe’s just lost one more asset.

Don’t you lose customers over misguided short term profits.

Treat customers like gold.   Treat them like a customer for life, and they will be.